ACMA is taking a literal approach to Critical Information Summary requirements, judging by some recent comments. Specifically, if a plan doesn’t include any hardware, you need to say that it doesn’t include any hardware. Even if it is called a ‘BYO’ plan, for instance, you still need to say, ‘There are no goods you must take as a mandatory component of this offer’ or words to that effect.
Here’s why ACMA sees it that way.
The TCP Code lists the information required in a CIS in three sections, titled:
- Information about the service
- Information about pricing
- Other information
When it deals with the ‘information about pricing’ topic, it says that the CIS must contain certain information ‘where relevant’. When it deals with the ‘other information’ heading, it says the same. There must be certain information ‘where relevant’. But when it deals with the first heading, ‘information about the service’, it says that the CIS must include certain information. Full stop. There’s no ‘where relevant’.
So ACMA is taking the point that twice, the TCP Code says ‘include where relevant’ but the other time it just says ‘include’. So, reasons ACMA, that must mean ‘include, even it it’s not relevant’. And one of the items under that ‘include, even it it’s not relevant’ heading is:
whether there is any Telecommunications Good that the Customer must take as a mandatory component of the Offer, (so the Consumer has no choice as to that Telecommunications Good), what the mandatory Telecommunications Good is and if the Charge for the mandatory Telecommunications Good is not already built into the Offer pricing disclosed in the summary of Offer, then the separate Charge for this mandatory Telecommunications Good.
Whether this is a wise approach to take when interpreting a document that is as poorly drafted as the TCP Code remains to be seen. There are many examples of inadvertent use of language in the code, and a very literal approach to interpretation may be a two-edged sword for the regulator.
In any event, what we can be sure of is that ACMA considers a Critical Information Summary is non-compliant unless it either says what equipment is included in an offer, or expressly says that there is no mandatory equipment included.